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Art and Agency: An Anthropological Theory
by Alfred Gell
Alfred Gell puts forward a new anthropological theory of visual art, seen as a form of instrumental action: the making of things as a means of influencing the thoughts and actions of others. He argues that existing anthropological and aesthetic theories take an overwhelmingly passive point of view, and questions the criteria that accord art status only to a certain class o ...more
Paperback, 296 pages
Published December 3rd 1998 by Clarendon Press
(first published July 9th 1998)
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The book is a-historical study of how art’s agency be used to study the responses of people who treat works of art as living beings. It makes us reflect the importance of the object and how we interact with it. Ideas of the appearance of the inanimate as an animated, living being that defines living presence response, makes it resistent to any form of scientific explanation, and at the same time very unsettling. Highly recommended.